Kursi Caves and/or Tombs

View looking southward towards Kursi of an east-west slope terminating near church

Caves along a ridge to the east of Kursi.   

 From inside Cave #1, April 2005

Four foot wide ledge below limestone overhang

Caves #2

Cave #2 low ceiling, conglomerate cave,  January 2006

Cave  #3,  April 2005

Cave #3 was large enough to stand in, January 2006.

Kursi Hill, shows cave #3 to left and hillside cut dug while excavating Byzantine chapel, January 2006

I picked up a Franciscan guidebook in a Jerusalem guesthouse library and found mention of recesses in the wadi to the side of the Kursi monastery described as tombs.  There were other dark openings in the rocks not published here in the southwestern face of the ridge .  The study of this area has occurred to try to determine the geographical context of the Gospels and the story about the demoniac.  The demoniac was described as a Gerasene in two of the early Gospels, a Gergesene in later manuscripts, and a Gadarene in one of the Gospels.  There were limestone cave features and manmade conglomerate caves.  The rock was solid and the caves might have been hundreds or thousands of years old.  They may have been dug into conglomerate, the rock was cemented solid, a rock strata dipping to the west.

A couple of kilometers to the north was Noqeib, a steep limestone ridge much closer to the shore.  In July of 2006, I found some caves that might also have been used as tombs at one time. 

There was also a steep slope and numerous caves/tombs in the NW corner of the lake near Magdala and Hawaii Beach.      

In 2006 I found a book by W. Sanday, SACRED SITES OF THE GOSPELS, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1903.  Sanday went to Kursi although the Arabs called it Kersa at that time.  Sanday reported seeing tombs and a steep place almost at the edge of the lake.  He compared the word Kersa to Geresa.

Sanday quoted the work of one Dr. Thomson, THE LAND AND THE BOOK (1901), who was credited with having discovered the place.  Thomson wrote: "The name of this prostrate town is Kerza (sic) or Gersa as my Bedawin guide shouted it in my ear the first time I visited it, on that windy day we have been describing.  The name however pronounced by Bedawin Arabs, is so similar to Gergesa, that to all my inquiries for this place, they invariably said it was at Chersa (sic); and they insisted that they were identical, and I agreed with them in this opinion."

Sanday reprinted the work of Dr. K. Furrer, of Zurich:  "That Kersa (the first discoverer of the place, Thomson,  writes Gersa, Schumacher Kursi) may, so far as the sounds are concerned, be identified with Gerasa ... That there was a place Gerasa (Origen thought that it should be written Gergesa) on the eastern shore of the lake was known only to Origen, who on his repeated journeys to Bostra may have been acquainted with this district ... also Burchardus (1283) who remarks:  Gerasa civitas in littore maris sita Galilee, sub monte Seyr (by which he means the Golan)."

Whether or not this place was named Gerasa in the time of Christ may not be proven.  The Gospels only stated this man was from a place, not that he was or wasn't found in the place he was from.  The demoniac was sleeping in tomb(s) as he had no home.  An insane man with a criminal record sometimes wandered because as soon as his reputation became known he was no longer welcomed.  People may have offered him temporary assistance, but after he showed them scorn and abuse, would have wished he depart and not offer him assistance, but instead threats of chains and imprisonment.    

Gerasa of the Decapolis, Jerash c. 1900 -- Library of Congress collection

This was another place Gerasa/Jerash, a city of the Decapolis about 30 miles south-east of the Sea of Galilee.

 Parable of the Mustard Seed
     A Mustard Field Along Highway 87-North Shore of Galilee
     Mustard Seeds in the Palm of a Hand
     A Branching Mustard Plant Near the Jordan River/Bethsaida
     Mustard Field March 1999
     Mustard Flowers
Upper Most Seats of the Synagogue

The Fig Tree
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     Fig and Pomegranate trees below Siloam in Jerusalem
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     Sycomore Fig Tree
The Good Shepherd
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
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Ritual Cleansing
     The Olive Harvest of Samaria
     Mt. Ebal
     Olive Tree
Pearl of Great Price
A First Century Synagogue at Gamala
     View from the Vulture Overlook
     Overview of Gamala
Modern Galilee Fishing Boats

Caves and/or tombs
     Steep Slope Near the Lake
     Kursi West Face

Feeding the 5,000
     On the Mountain
     Walking on Water

     Ramot-Zelon area
     Alternate location
Mt. Hermon
The Pool(s) of Bethesda in Jerusalem

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The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem
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The Fish and the Coin
A Denarius
Casting out a demon
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     Wilderness Above Jericho

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Salt of the earth

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